UTICA, N.Y.— The Hobart College ice hockey team earned its third straight ECAC West tournament title with a 2-1 OT win over Utica in the championship game today played in Utica’s Memorial Auditorium this afternoon. Junior Ben Greiner scored the game-winning goal 15:39 into OT to secure the victory.
The Statesmen, the No. 3 seed in the tournament and No. 6/7 team in the nation, are 20-4-4 overall this season. It’s the fifth ECAC West tournament title for Hobart in program history. The Statesmen will now wait to hear if they receive an at-large bit to the NCAA tournament. The NCAA selection show will air on NCAA.com on Monday, March 6 at 10:30 a.m.
Top-seeded and nationally ranked No. 12/15 Utica falls to 18-9-0 this year. With today’s win the Statesmen avenged two regular season losses to the Pioneers. Greiner was named the tournament’s MVP. Senior defenseman Jon Neal, sophomore forward Cam Shaheen and junior goaltender Frank Oplinger also represented Hobart on the all-tournament team. Utica forward Roman Ammirato and defenseman Zach Borsoi also earned all-tournament honors.
Greiner and Shaheen each logged a goal and an assist in the win. Russo tallied two assists. Oplinger made 34 saves in 75:39 in goal.
Just 1:15 into the contest, Shaheen put Hobart up 1-0. He finished off a rebound from a blast by Russo. Greiner also earned an assist on the play. Oplinger made key saves for the Statesmen in the first, denying a couple close calls for Utica. With 7:50 left in the first, Oplinger made a key stop with Utica crashing the goal. The rebound was loose in the crease, but senior Nick Bingaman was there to clear away the scoring chance.
The second period proved scoreless. Hobart notched a 12-6 advantage in shots in both the second and the third periods. Sophomore Tanner Shaw had a huge blocked shot late in the third to stifle a 3-on-1 situation for Utica. However, with 4:14 left in regulation and after a Utica faceoff win by Anthony McVeigh, Zach Borsoi tied the game up at one for the Pioneers on a blast from the top of the right circle.
It wasn’t until 15:39 into the extra period that Greiner found the back of the net to secure the victory. Shaheen pushed a pass to Russo who found Greiner at the left post. Greiner lifted his shot into the top right corner.
The Statesmen finished with a 42-35 advantage in shots. The Statesmen went 0-for-1 on the power play and killed all four of the Pioneers power-play chances. Patrik Virtanen made 40 saves in goal for Utica.
With today’s win the Hobart Class of 2017 Jon Neal, Nick Bingaman, Bobby Sokol, Connor Simon, Tyler Hanzlik, Bo Webster, Tim Keegan, Michael Russo, Mitch Beyer and Carl Belizario reached 76 career wins, a new program record for wins by a graduating class. The Statesmen are now 3-0-4 in overtime this season.